The mountains in the center of South Korea are some of the steepest, rockiest and most intimidating in the world. No, they are not tall. They are just steep, bare of soil, trees or bushes. Often sheer vertical faces offer the purist rock climber a chance to show his or her mettle in an attempt to free climb them. For the less intrepid there is the cable car to the top. Ah! I forgot to say where the cable car takes you. Well, 45 minutes south of Daejon on highway 17 is Daedun Mountain (Daedunsan) in the middle of a beautiful national park seemingly dedicated to the spirit of broken bones. More climbers are injured here than any other park.
Daedun is not for climbing. It is for scaring. Imagine a set out of "Lord of the Rings" where the Evil Tower blossums flames. Take away the flames, add another tower just like it 200 meters away. Now put a swinging foot bridge between the towers. Oh yes, the towers-not man made, maybe made by evil demons-stand on hills far above the ground below and on the edge of a sharply sloping valley. The cable car will take you from just above the parking lot to the bottom of the tower area. The cable car ride itself is worth the trip. It is 20 minutes long, costs 5000 won, or about 5 USD round trip. You still must climb the godawful stepped path to the bridge of death. If you note a shortness of breath it is probably fear as you approach the bridge and realize that one slip leaves you with about 15 seconds to learn how to fly. Enjoy the magnificent view, the stunning landscape and the sobbing of my wife as I drag her onto the bridge to look. I will post a photo next time. battery went dead on the bottom.
Don't buy food at the mountain. Just 15 kilometers before you get there (right after you make the hard left turn on 17) there is a great little restaurant with good food and reasonable prices. Ms. Lee serves a limited menu but all good. Try the Kalbi Dang, but be careful it comes to the table boiling.
Buddha's Birthday is not celebrated on a particular date, but is reckoned by some mysterious process of lunar dating that only Asians can grasp. Nonetheless, the day is one of spectacular parades, concerts, and rejoicing. There are hundreds of Buddhist temples in South Korea and each one is painstakingly decorated for the joyous event. One of our favorite places on the birthday is the beautiful Mageok-Sa located about 35 minutes south of Cheonan. Several nationally known movie stars, singers, political figures, athletes, and just about anyone else who can make will be there. Normally just an obscure temple in a rustic setting, on the birthday, well bring your own chair to sit on, and forget parking there. You will have a minimum of a 10 minute walk, and if you a bit late, 30 mintues. The concerts begin at 1:00 p.m. with several musicians using traditional Korean stringed instruments and goes on until late evening. Somewehre around 6:00 p.m. it ends and the line for the free dinner forms. All the temples provide lunch on this day. The polite thing to do is to drop a few thousand won ($2.00) into the pot as you enter, but there is no requirement. Enjoy the good music, singing, food, honor the tradition and go home happy.
Directions: Go south out of Cheonan onf Hwy. #1 (not expressway one) 20 kilometers. Exit right onto #23. Go about 10 kilometers and watch for the signs. They are Bi, Brown, and have picture of a temple. follow the signs. go past the wooden totem poles up the hill. park. walk
Located on the northeast corner of the provincial park, Daedun mountain features an exciting photo opportunity not offered in many places in the world. There are two foot bridges built for the sole purpose of providing photo moments. Both are built between rock pillars. The first one is easily accessed after only a few minutes walk up a few hundred steps. The second one requires a longer hike followed by a climb up more than a hundred step "ladder." Okay, so it really isn't a ladder, but it is steep enough to qualify, and it goes right up the sheer face of another pillar. Once at the top, you can cross the bridge, hike back down the other ladder (they are one way) and then on to the top of the mountain where there are a few monuments. Be advised that even people in good condition arrive at the pinnacle out of breath. The (new) easiest way to get there from Cheonan or points north is to go down Hiway #1 to #23. Follow 23 to a point 12 kilometers north of Nonsan City. Pick up 697 secondary until it runs into #17. Turn left, go 8 kilometers and the parking lot is on the left. Handicapped people can take their cars to the tcket window for the cable car but cannot leave the cars there. The cost for the cable car is 5,000 won round trip or $5.00 USD. Entry to the walking trails, and there are foolish people who HIKE all the way up, Note the vultures grinning in the trees, will cost between 1.30 to 2.00 depending on age. Take your own water. The water there is twice the price it is anywhere else. The only public bathroom is in cable car buildings on both ends. There is a viewing platform just outside of the upper cable car room for those whose common sense took hold just before beginning the hike up the steps of atonement. Sorry, but the beautiful woman in the blue motorcycle coat is spoken for unless you are willing to trade for new Pfleiger skis.
Take a slow drive along the Nakdong River. There are only a few cities, a short stretch of 4 lane traffic, and some beautiful rural kodak moments. The photos of the gigantic golden Buddha on the top of a tall hill didn't come out. next time. The two main crops grown along the river are apples and peppers. The korean word for peppers is kochu (gohchew) and kochu chang is pepper paste, used on everything except ice-cream and cake. Kochu Karo is powder similar to chili powder and is put in almost everything unless you ask the waitress not to. Along the river you will see Korean pears with each pear individually covered with a small cloth bag to keep off the bugs. During the harvest you will see many roadside fruit and vegetable stands, and where there is room to pull off, you can get the best fruit in Korea here. Something about the soil and water. Along the quiet litte road are a few temples not far off the track, a couple of small villages where the traditional Korean quadrangle home is maintained. Just go south of Seoul until you see the sign for Highway 34 and stay on that highway until you are tired. Go back to the expressway and return to Seoul, or stop by my place in Cheonan for a cup of coffee.
A great course. So large, which is great for Korea. However the fees are pretty steep. But they are worth it. This course is large enough, and far enough away from Seoul to be able to have a good hit. The Outer course is best because Punter golfers like me can really get into the swing of things (parden the oun). Golfers can hit the ball as far as they can and truly enjoy that here. The layout here is well designed. The Inner Course (middle) is a bit cleaner, and its all about playing for the green. Also its more expensive.
weekdays: 98,000 Won
weekends: 135,000 Won
caddie fee: 70,000/ cart fee: 44,000 Won
weekdays: 40,000 Won
Weekends: 55,000 Won
caddie fee: 40,000/ cart fee:22,000 Won
Sangnok Resort - Cheonan offers 100 hotel rooms and 48 youth hostel rooms. A double-occupancy hotel room or a four-person youth hostel room costs 93,000 won.
669-1 Jangsan-ri, Susin-myeon, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do
From Dong Seoul Termianl or Gangnam Express Bus Terminal take bus to Cheonan.(06:00 - 21:20, interval: 15min.)
From Cheonan Station take city coach bus No. 500 (07:50 - 17:50, interval: 40 min. ) and get off at Cheonan Sangnok Resort.
From Seoul Station or Yeongdeungpo Station
take train to Cheonan. From Cheonan Station
take city coach bus No. 500.
Jungbu Expressway Dongseoul I.C.
-> Jincheon I.C.
-> Toward Cheonan (National Road No. 21)
-> Sangnok Resort
Seoraksan is probably the most visited out of Korean National Parks. It's located in the country's Northeast near the coastal city of Sokcho and I visited in early December 2004 along with my Korean colleagues. We comfortably stayed at Hotel Kensington located right before the park gate. Temperature was pretty acceptable and we decided to go up to Ulsanbawi (Rock from Ulsan) on a Saturday. Peak elevation is some 870 m (about 3,000 ft) above seal level and to an experienced hiker it would require some 3 hours for the round-trip. Vertical drop might be around 700 m, of which an estimated 300 m are climbed through a steel staircase with rails. Recommendable, though not strictly necessary, are proper mountain boots. It's also recommendable to choose weekdays to avoid hundreds of people on your way. Screaming children and even suite-and-necktie are not uncommon, despite a good number of people seem to be properly dressed for the occasion.
Ulsanbawi is a granite rock, said to be the largest chunk of rock in whole Asia, and the ocean view from top is something unfamiliar to most mountaineers. Also, to most mountaineers, it's not common to find people selling refreshments and gadgets right on the top. And along the way there are restaurants. As most things in this country, I found the "Pali-Pali" (rush-rush) style applies to rugged places too. Along the way you can find three interesting temples, the lowest of them displaying a huge sitting Buddha bronze statue built in AD 652.
You don't need to be a skilled hiking enthusiast to take a 2-hour round trip walk in the mountains. Going to Bukhansan could be a good idea. Located in the north outskirts of Seoul, this National Park is home to a micro "Great Wall". Nothing to compare to the unique Chinese marvel, but certainly worth the walk along the trail that will take you to the summit. Bottom-to-top elevation is about 500 meters. Water and snacks with you are always recommended, as well as proper shoes/boots.
It is often not appreciated that the forces supporting South Korea during the Korean War of 1950-53 was actually a United Nations action with forces from 19 nations participating. In the far northeastern reaches of Korea, 112 Ethiopian soldiers died and over 400 were injured in the battles for Chuch'on. The people have erected this monument in thanks to the Ethiopian nation. Adjacent is the Ethiopia bar and cafe, in itself a local monument. The monument is located on the "old road" from Seoul at the entrance to the city.
For beautiful rugged scenery the Hwach'on Resevoir offers unending vistas. Created by a dam on the Pukhan river near the city of the same name, the resevoir is approximately 12 miles long but narrow throughout. The dam, only 13 miles north of Chuch"on, was controlled by the Chinese Communist forces during the Korean Conflict and the area around the city and resevoir was the scene of intense fighting between North Korean and Chinese soldiers versus South Korean soldiers as well as US Army and Marines. The rugged terrain and vicious weather combined to make this area one of the difficult.
Yangpyeong is famous for its Moutians and skifields that pack beyond belief during ski season. (Have yo ever waiting 45 minutes to use a lift?) So when you go there don't go to ski. Go to see the landscape. The Yangpyeong area is dominated by two features, Mt. Yongmun and The Han River's (the Flows through Seoul) two river valleys. These two rivers meander through steep terrain to meet in a confluence a little west in the town of Yangsuri (which itself is a great place to stop and eat or in the winter skate on the river).
Also in Yangpyeong, well around it is YongMunSa, a famous buddhist temple. They say that there is a 1,100 years old ginkgo tree there abouts too, but I didn't see it.
How to get there. Well you can take a bus to yangpyeong From Kangnam Bus terminal, or better still rent a car and drive up there slowly from seoul, it takes only an hour or two, depending on how often you stop. Don't forget your camera, teh mountain views are spectacular.
For some reason, Every body come to Gangchon to ride bicycles.. Really, and whats more, many of them come to learn to ride bicyles....
But Gangchon itself is a lovely little jaunt, only 1 and half hours from Seoul, and a lot of fun for a day trip.
So what is there? Well gangchon has been designated a Recreational Area. The actual farming village of Gangchon is a quite safely tucked away from the University Student MTers falling off their bicycles in droves. It is in fact little more up the valley. I got there on my reneted Bicycle. Its easy, Just follow the multitudes of bicyles, when they all turn right to the waterfall, keep going straight. Soon its quiet, picturesque and traditional looking.
Ganghon itself is located on the Bukan River that always runs from Chuncheon in Gangwon-do Province. Checkout the Gugok Pukpo (Gugok Waterfall) its quite nice. It is 67m high and in Summer there is a lot of water. A nice swimming hole nearby too. Eat some Gyeran Chiggae (Egg Stew) in a The shabbiest looking of the restaurants, its soo yummy, sorry I cannot remeber the name.
How to get there: At Seoul’s Cheongnyangni Train Station, buy a ticket for Gangchon and then board a train headed for Chuncheon. After approximately two hours, get off the train at Gangchon. Then walk towards the center of Gangchon for about 5 minutes.
There are approximately 21 trains running daily from Seoul’s Cheongnyangni Station headed towards Gangchon (in the Chunheon area) from 5:30 a.m. ~ 10:30 p.m. (information may be subject to change)
Mt. Seoraksan is so named because the snow would not melt for a long period of time and its rocks stay white like snow.
The Mt. Seoraksan park is spread about in 4 cities and counties, in Sokcho, Inje, Goseong and Yangyang. Featuring the highest peak Daecheongbong, the east side is called OeSeorak and the west is called NaeSeorak, which is divided again into North NaeSeorak and South NaeSeorak. North NaeSeorak is composed of Bukcheon stream, which flows to Ingyecheon stream and Baekdamcheon stream.
There are numerous valleys in NaeSeorak. Follow the Baekdamcheon Valley where all the streams meet and you will reach Baekdamsa Temple, which is known for its beautiful scenery.
But to see the Mt. Seoraksan park in its full splendour, see it in Autumn. It is ablaze with RED RED maples, like the one below. Its a sight to behold.
When you walk out of Insadong heading North you will come to a main road, one which, if you head east you will get to Daehungno, if you head west, you'll reach Kyoungbuk Palace, however if you somehow manage to cross and meander a little you will end up in Anguk Dong.
Anguk Dong wasn't much awhile ago, but recently it is cleaning up. Why? Well, Anguk Dong is one of the few areas of Seoul that wasn't flattened during the Korean War, in layman's terms, it is full of old style architecture.
It has been a residential area for years, nestled quietly beneath the western shadows of Bukhan mountain, but now it has been discovered. Ritzy restaurants, and dinky jazz bars are moving in, bringing with them much needed restoration money.
But away from the main streets, there are still the old upper class residential houses of yester year to appreciate (or should I say depreciate :oP) in their natural splendour. give it a burl. And when you've finished your stroll, go and have a cup of tea in a restored korean style Villa now tea house. BTW The Cheonhwa dae (the Blue House or the republic of Korea Presential house) is in Anguk Dong).
This is the only Basaltic piece of rock in Korea. Its a small Hawaiian type (Hot Spot) volcano due south of mainland Korea, and its really worth a visit, if you can make it. To Koreans Jeju (or Cheju) is famous for four things: Oranges, Basalt, the Mongolian Ponies and beautiful women. but it is also home to the famous diving women; the Haen-nyo, great winds ( I experienced super typhoon 'Maemi' there), stone demarkations or fences, beaches and Pork Pigs that are fed nothing save excrement (they are delicious by the way).
The island offers visitors a wide range of activities: hiking on Halla-san (South Korea's highest peak), catching sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, viewing majestic waterfalls, riding horses, or just lying around on the sandy beaches.
Although tourism is one of the main industries on the island, many of the hotels and other tourist areas are run by companiesfrom Seoul, so much of the income never gets put back into the local economy. Also, since the attractions are geared towards tourists, many of the entrance fees can be hefty (although the locally owned and operated ones tend to be cheaper).
Ever wonder where you could go to the beach in Korea and not be inandated by masses of humanity? The beaches at Pusan and the major resorts on the east coast are so full of people in the summer that you can't even see the sand!
A great alternative to those crowded places is Taean-Gun; a peninsula on the west coast that is a collection of beaches islands and a recreational forest. The most popular beach is Kkotji, but I prefer Manlipo. It reminds me of the boardwalk with it's ice cream carts and other food vendors. There is even a disco tent. You can camp on most of the beaches for a small fee (bring your own tent or rent one), but be careful; the tide is quick.
As you may not know, Korea's west coast has the 2nd greatest tidal change in the world. When the tide goes out, it looks as if someone pulled the plug on the ocean. It really gives you a sense of the challenge MacArthur had during the Inchon landing.
If you prefer pine forests and walks on the beach, try the nearby Anmyeondo Recreation Forest on Anmyeondo (6th largest island in Korea). It is like Yellowstone in the US only it has a beach too. You can also reant real log cabins that have fireplaces. There is nothing like taking a walk on the beach, watching the magnificent sunset and enjoying your favorite beverage by a roaring fire and the smell of pine forest all in just a couple of hours drive from Seoul.
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Dragon Valley Hotel 130 Youngsanri, Doap-Myun,Pyungchang-Kun, South Korea